Barry Hawkins rues ‘weird season’ warns rivals: ‘I’m a tough draw for anyone’

Barry Hawkins has not missed a trip to the Crucible since 2005 (Picture: Getty Images)

Barry Hawkins is trying to keep up a run of Crucible visits which dates back to 2006, but does not sound too worried about a return to World Championship qualifying.

The 43-year-old made his Crucible debut in 2006 and has been there every year since then, reaching the final in 2013 and four further semi-finals.

He has been there as a seeded player every year since he reached that 2013 final as the 15th seed, but he has now dropped out of the world’s top 16 so must head to qualifying and win two matches to keep up his unbroken Crucible run.

The season started off well for the Hawk, reaching the final of the European Masters but results have been difficult to come by since then, not reaching another ranking quarter-final.

He feels he has been playing well, though, and is not fearing a return to the low-key qualifiers ahead of the cauldron of the Crucible.

‘I never take anything for granted,’ he said of his slide down the rankings. ‘This year I haven’t played badly, I just did quite well two years ago and not defended it as well as I’d have liked so I’ve got a load of points coming off. We’ve lost tournaments here and there, it’s the way it is, it’s tough at the moment.

‘I think I’ll be alright, to be honest [at the qualifiers]. If it’s anything like they used to have the qualifying they still have quite a lot of people watching in that final round, sometimes it does me a favour, gives me something to work towards.

Hawkins has built a reputation as a force at the Crucible (Picture: Getty Images)

‘I’m going to feel nerves and pressure because I want to get there, but it gives me something to work towards, let’s see what happens. I’d like to finish off the season at the Crucible.’

Hawkins has his first qualifying match against David Lilley on Sunday, with the winner of that taking on either Robbie Williams or Jak Jones for a spot at the Crucible.

While the qualifiers are a bit of a minefield, Hawkins feels that if he can make his way though it he will be well placed for another fine Crucible run.

‘A load of players have done it, qualified and had a good run because you’re coming off the back of a couple of good wins,’ he said. ‘We’ll see what happens.

‘Ding [Junhui] got to the final [as a qualifier], [Stuart] Bingham qualified and had a good run. If I play my game I’m a tough draw for anyone.’

MORE : Anthony McGill unfazed by World Championship qualifying return but sick of playing Shaun Murphy

MORE : John Parrott reveals his Crucible inkling and hope for Neil Robertson on improving his ‘bamboozling’ record

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